Sping has sprung

Wednesday, May 2, 2001 at 1:00am

Along about the last week in February Mother Nature begins to whisper encouraging words of good happenings on the way to our birds, fish, and other wild game that have been in sort of a state of hibernation during the cold, winter months.

In other words winter is slowly loosing its grip here in the south and the earliest signs of birds nesting and trophy fish being caught begin to be seen and heard.

Then comes the so called fly in the ointment in the form of some difficult weather, namely freezing temperatures or heavy rains that elevate our lakes, rivers, and streams.

When these sudden weather changes move on and the weather warms up again, water temperatures do likewise. Once the water temperature approaches the 50 degree level fisherman should be searching for areas where the main river channel feeds into smaller creeks adjacent to prime shallow water spawning areas.

An ideal spot might be a flat that tapers out to eight to 10 feet of water, with a holding area 12 to 15 feet that drops off into much deeper water. Fish will suspend, according to the experts (pros) when the contour makes its first significant depth change near a point between deep and shallow water. These areas, flats and points near deep water, will hold and collect, so to speak, lots of fish. Fish these areas prior to weather fronts or when warming trends push bass shallow.

Try a jerkbait in the shallow water and also a weighed jerkbait for those suspended bass. The weighted jerkbait will stay in the strike area longer for those suspended bass. Vary the retrieve of the jerkbait or any other lure you might be casting. Once you find the right retrieve and action, the fun begins.

Fishing for Health, May 19

Beginning May 19 and continuing through May 20 thousands of anglers will be searching for fish strikes on Tims Ford Lake in hopes of catching a whopper that will win them a new boat, motor, and trailer.

The event, the Southern Tennessee Medical Center's Fishing For Health Tournament, which is headquartered at the Tims Ford Bass Club on Highway 131 in Winchester, TN.

Tickets for the Fishing For Health Tournament are $20 and all fish must be caught from Tims Ford Lake. Talking about prizes, a total of three boats, motors and trailers will be given to the first place winners in the bass, crappie, rockfish, and carp categories. Prizes will be awarded for the top four largest fish entries in each category.

The awards ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. May 20 at the Tims Ford Bass Club. Winners must be present and four places will be awarded in the following major categories: Bass, Crappie, Rockfish, Carp, Bluegill, Catfish, Walleye and Drum.

A $500 savings bond will be awarded to the person catching the largest fish in the following categories: Smallmouth bass, Grandmother, Grandfather and Children.

Here's what the first-prize winners will hitch up to and drive home:

Largest bass catch will get a Bumblebee V-16 FD boat with a 90 H.P. motor and trailer; for the largest crappie there's a Bumblebee Stinger 2 boat with a 50 H.P. motor and trailer; largest rockfish winner gets a Bumblebee 154 boat with a 25 H.P. motor and trailer and in the largest carp category the winner receives a $2,000 savings bond.

We're not through yet, for the winners in the bluegill, catfish, walleye and drum divisions comes $500 savings bonds ... don't forget the buffalo category

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